About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Religious Taboos Dampen AIDS Tests in Morocco

by Dr. Enozia Vakil on March 17, 2013 at 5:38 PM
Font : A-A+

 Religious Taboos Dampen AIDS Tests in Morocco

Women in Morocco turn towards mobile clinics offering free AIDS tests as they 'don't have anything'.

Around 29,000 people are infected with HIV in a country of 33 million, according to estimates by the Pan African AIDS Organisation (OPALS), a relatively low figure compared with other Arab countries.

Advertisement

But large swathes of Moroccan society are religious, with sex outside of marriage and adultery still illegal, and the AIDS virus has long been a taboo subject.

Around 80 percent of victims don't even know they are HIV carriers, according to OPALS, which was set up in 1994 to combat the spread of the disease and is active in 19 different parts of the country.
Advertisement

While only a small proportion of the national population is infected (0.1 percent), the virus is concentrated in two specific areas -- the southwestern tourist region of Agadir, notably among prostitutes and gay men, and the northern town of Nador, among drug addicts.

Across much of Morocco, conservative religious attitudes and the stigma attached to AIDS can complicate the efforts made in testing, treatment and prevention.

But in Sale's Douar Jbala, a stronghold of the Islamist Justice and Development Party that heads Morocco's coalition government, OPALS officials carrying out the AIDS tests are happy with the response to their campaign.

Like other poor neighbourhoods, Douar Jbala is "vulnerable", because of the conservative attitudes and prejudices that hold sway here, so the medics welcome the large turnout.

"There is an enthusiasm, particularly among the women. It's really important for us, it shows that it is no longer such a taboo," said Dr Zakia Afkari, supervising the operation in partnership with Morocco's health ministry.

These young women "don't hesitate to come on their own," she added, before heading back into the clinic where dozens of people were waiting to be tested.

Asmaa, 21, said she decided to show up "without thinking too much" about it.

In her age category (15-24), 61 percent of those infected are women.

"I came across it by chance when I noticed a banner inviting locals to take the AIDS test. I hesitated for a moment and then came to the clinic," she explained.

"Now I'm glad I did," she added with a smile, holding a piece of cotton wool on her finger where the blood sample was taken.

There was no sign of embarrassment among those standing outside the truck where the free and anonymous tests were performed.

"For me there's no shame in being tested for AIDS. It's not a problem, it's not against my religion," said 18-year-old Khadija.

Health experts say Morocco is ahead of other Arab countries partly because it began its anti-AIDS campaign early, in the 1990s, developing infrastructure to support victims of the virus, such as a hospital in the city of Casablanca run by the Association for the Fight against AIDS.

But big challenges remain, especially in overcoming social prejudices surrounding the disease itself, said Dr Kamal Alami, who heads the UN's AIDS/HIV programme in Morocco.

"Despite all the efforts, the taboo still exists," Alami said. "There is a problem of discrimination and stigmatisation for people who live with the HIV virus."

"Most of them prefer not to be seen (to be infected), and this is often an obstacle in the fight against AIDS, in terms of prevention and support."

The clinic in Douar Jbala is one step in the struggle against that stigma.

"We have to get out among the poor and vulnerable, to make contact with them and raise their awareness," said OPALS campaign organiser Khadija Ouazzani.

Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Advertisement
News Category
What's New on Medindia
International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021 - Fighting for Rights in the Post-COVID Era
Effect of Blood Group Type on COVID-19 Risk and Severity
Woman with Rare Spinal Cord Defect from Birth Sues Doctor
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Oral Health And AIDS AIDS/HIV AIDS/HIV - Epidemiology AIDS/HIV - Clinical Features AIDS/HIV - Health Education AIDS/HIV - Prevention And Transmission AIDS / HIV - Treatment AIDS/HIV- Lab Tests and Faqs AIDS - Initial Theories and Disease Progression AIDS/HIV - Worldwide distribution and Risk of Transmission 

Recommended Reading
AIDS / HIV - Treatment
Encyclopedia section of medindia explains in brief about the treatment for AIDS/HIV...
Hearing Aids
Hearing aid is an electronic device that helps people with hearing loss to hear more and ......
AIDS/HIV - Health Education
Encyclopedia section of medindia gives general info about AIDS information and health education....
AIDS - Initial Theories and Disease Progression
AIDS was first detected in early 1980s, among gays, Haitians and black Africans. HIV is a descendant...
AIDS/HIV
"AIDS is an epidemic disease, a potentially preventable, deadly infection for which there is no cure...
AIDS/HIV - Clinical Features
Encyclopedia section of medindia gives general info about HIV Clinical Features...
AIDS/HIV - Epidemiology
AIDS or HIV is an epidemic disease, a potentially deadly infection that can be prevented with preca...
AIDS/HIV - Prevention And Transmission
Encyclopedia section of medindia explains in brief about the prevention for AIDS/HIV...
AIDS/HIV - Worldwide distribution and Risk of Transmission
Epidemiologic studies indicate three broad yet distinct geographic patterns of transmission...
Oral Health And AIDS
AIDS has taken on massive proportions in modern times. It is estimated that over 15 million people a...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use